Corruption alleged in Aster Cable sale

Aster Cable, a failing cable company in the Dominican Republic, was recently sold via auction to Consorcio Energético Punta Cana-Macao (CEPM). CEPM paid US$27 million for the business, although most observers expected the sale to achieve around US$44 million. Aster had been in administration for the past three years.

Now the local Justice and Transparency Foundation as well as the Dominican Alliance Against Corruption are involved, and asking some tough questions. Top of the list is why the sale had to take place so speedily. Questions are being asked of the Dominican Republic’s Central Bank Authority to explain the haste, given that a new election is due shortly and most observers expect a change of government.

Defenders of the process say simply that the $17 million reduction reflected a fair valuation placed on the business by auditors KPMG.

One failed bidder, Tricom, says it was perfectly happy with the sale process, and would not be making a complaint. Aster General Director José Florentino in local interviews said that the bidding process was “clear and transparent”.

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